Softball – The 8-Minute Pregame

Concise Language for Three-Person Crew Develops Unity


By Patrick Keim

Arriving to the three-umpire system at various upper levels is the culmination of hard work, preparation and demonstration of the knowledge and skills necessary to officiate. An example of that is the umpire’s use of the “pre-pitch checklist” as a normal part of his or her game on the field.

The umpire’s “arrival” also indicates a grasping of the greater concepts of umpiring philosophy, an understanding of his or her place in a larger, more comprehensive and coordinated system. Those umpires know that it truly is “the game, the crew and then it’s you.”

Just as “pre-pitch” preparation is vitally important to the umpire’s performance, the “pregame discussion” by the plate umpire can be vitally important to his or her crew as well.

The pregame discussion should foster the idea of crew unity. It should have the effect of coordinating and preparing the crew members coming in from “wherever” to the “here and now” to competently officiate the game together. Through the use of concise language containing the essential concepts of most systems, the plate umpire can have the beneficial impact of cultivating confidence in the crew before stepping onto the field. 

There are many ways to conduct a thorough pregame. National staff members, conference coordinators, camp evaluators, mentors and the respective manuals are excellent resources for the elements of a solid pregame. All will insist that one is used. In addition, the following ideas should be useful when formulating an adequate pregame discussion with your crew.

Consider the use of concise language. Employ widely understood key words or phrases to communicate larger situational concepts. The use of meaningful language recognized and used by umpires can be very helpful. Terms such as “chase,” “bracket,” “help,” “standard,” “rotated,” “counter-rotated,” “shoot play,” “full rotation,” “partial rotation,” “delayed rotation,” “V,” “wedge”and many more can be useful in reminding your partners of their duties and responsibilities in certain game situations. Even the term “deer in the headlights” can communicate a possible scenario that may develop on the field. 

Concise language has the desired effect of condensing larger ideas into “bite-size” chunks for the crew to digest in its pregame preparation, making the discussion more timely and efficient.

Consider tailoring your pregame discussion to the three starting positions. Those are the three positions that umpires will take at the start of every pitch — standard, rotated and counter-rotated. Guide the crew around the field in a fluid, systematic way. Covering the different positions and fly ball coverage, base runner and rotation responsibilities is a very important aspect of the plate umpire’s pregame with the crew.

The plate umpire’s discussion concerning the rotated position might sound something like, “When we are in the rotated position with a runner at first, Jack (U1) you have the right-field line, Jill (U3) you have the V, and I have the left-field line. If either umpire chases, the remaining umpire has first and second, and the batter-runner to third. If neither umpire chases, we have a partial rotation. Jack, you may want to discuss your tendency on a chase fly ball between you and Jill to straight-away right field.” 

Notice the concise language (“rotated,” “V,” “partial rotation”) used to convey the larger concepts. Notice also that the language used should be similar to your partner’s pre-pitch checklist language in his or her position. On the field before the pitch, Jack (U1) should be saying something like this to himself: “I have checked swing, right-field line; if she chases, I have first and second and the batter-runner to third. If she stays, we have a partial rotation.” In turn Jill (U3) might say something like this to herself: “He has checked swing, I have the V, if he chases, I have first and second and the batter-runner to third. If he stays we have the partial rotation.”

In that way the plate umpire’s pregame discussion is effective in helping to formulate the base umpire’s pre-pitch checklist, thereby placing the crew “on the same page” on the field. The same can be done for all of the basic positions and situations the crew may encounter in the game.

Consider focusing your pregame discussion on the particular and peculiar aspects of officiating. What are your particular tendencies on such things as pregame conference at the plate, umpire-to-umpire signals, balls off the batter in the box, hard line drives to the infield, umpire conferences, brawls and ejections? What are your first-base umpire’s tendencies on chase fly balls to straight-away center field (standard position) or right field (rotated position)? What about the weather and ground rule conditions? Those are good topics to cover with your partners in your pregame.

The plate umpire should also discuss the peculiar (for him or her) situations that may develop in each starting position. For example, when covering the standard position (no runners on base) it may be worth mentioning that if the U1 chases, the plate umpire has first-base responsibility, as it is the peculiar instance in which the plate umpire has that coverage. In the counter-rotated position (runner at second) and less than two outs, if either umpire chases a “caught fly ball,” the remaining umpire has the tag-up at second base, but the plate umpire has the tag play at third. That situation is peculiar because it is a different mechanic than ASA, in which the remaining base umpire has the tag-up and the tag play at third.    

It is also a good idea to ask your partners to comment on any “particulars” and “peculiars” they feel are important from their unique perspective of the game. The crew as a whole benefits from the experience of each individual umpire.

With the use of concise language, tailored to the three starting positions, inclusive of any particular or peculiar points of emphasis, a thorough pregame discussion normally lasting from 20-25 minutes can be adequately condensed to between eight and 10 minutes.

The game awaits. The teams are focused and prepared. The crew is ready — unified through a well-developed pregame discussion. And you have worked hard to arrive at this moment. Now go out there, hustle and have fun!

Patrick Keim, Coweta, Okla., umpires in multiple NCAA Division I conferences, ASA and NAIA. He is also an NCAA Division I camp evaluator.

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 02/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Volleyball – Line Judges: Gotta Have Moves


The speed of today’s game requires line judges to be mobile and alert, and responsive to changing match situations and playing actions. 

Their base position at the intersection of the endline and sideline (left-back corner of each court) may need to be adjusted if the server chooses to serve from within four to five feet of the left side of the serving area. In that case, the line judge on the serving team’s side should step back from the corner along the imaginary extension of the sideline, out of the peripheral view of the server (see MechaniGram). Once the ball has been contacted for serve, the line judge quickly moves back to the base position. That ensures the line judge doesn’t obstruct the serving action. 

Mobility during play is an important quality of a competent line judge. As plays develop and players move around the court, it may become necessary for a line judge to adjust positioning in order to maintain a clear, unobstructed view of the sideline or endline. During a rally, line judges must also be alert to the potential for a player to pursue a ball in their area. In that case, they should quickly move to avoid being hit by the ball or interfering with the player’s opportunity to make the play, while still viewing the playing action.            

Plays in which the ball is passing near an antenna are also an opportunity for line judges to exercise mobility. They need to have the best angle to observe the ball crossing the net to ensure the ball crosses completely between the antennas without touching them.

While a ball hit near an antenna down the sideline often doesn’t require a line judge to move significantly from his or her base position, a ball that is hit cross-court may necessitate a wider angle or a step along the sideline to better cover the play. “Pancake plays” near the floor or other unusual situations may also call for the line judge to take a step away from the corner to have the best view. 

A line judge’s position isn’t static during a match. Mobility increases their effectiveness and helps ensure the officiating crew gets the call right. 


Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 11/13 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Baseball – Don’t Run Out of Balls


Umpires should always have enough baseballs to avoid play being disrupted while extra players chase down foul balls.

The rules vary on the minimum number of baseballs to have at the start of a game. NFHS rules require three (1-3-1), while NCAA and pro require 12 (NCAA 4-1c; pro 3.01d).

Barring the circumstance in which a team just refuses to put more baseballs in play, there is no good reason for the plate umpire to ever run out of baseballs.

In the case of NFHS rules, umpires should request to have more than the minimum amount; the baseballs aren’t required to be new and more baseballs will ensure a better pace to the game.

Some teams will use a ballboy to bring out more baseballs when you run low (see PlayPic). If you have that situation, ask for more baseballs when you are down to two in your bag.

That way, you will always have a baseball to hand to the catcher when there is a foul ball or a ball gets cut or scuffed.

At the end of the game, you must return all of the game balls to the home team. If a ballboy has worked with you all game, find him and return the balls to him. Otherwise, return them to someone as you exit the field. As a last resort, set them on a bucket, chair or the ground by the dugout. It can be perceived as  rude to flip them back toward the dugout.

That is not a time to spend talking with the home coach or team. Hand them the baseballs and get off the field. Your job is done.

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 06/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Football – Life on the Run(ner)

Rules Regarding Players in Possession of the Pigskin


By George Demetriou

In life, possession is nine-tenths of the law. In football, possession of the ball means everything. There are rules that apply strictly to the person with a grasp on the pigskin.

Only NCAA rules use the term “ball carrier” (2-27-7b) to describe a player in possession of the ball. Nonetheless it’s important to understand the difference between a ball carrier and a “runner.” A runner is not only a player who is in possession of the ball, but also a player who is simulating possession of a live ball (NFHS 2-30-13; NCAA 2-27-7a). A ball carrier means exactly what it implies — a player with possession of the ball. Some rules apply to the runner and others only to a ball carrier.

Play 1: Quarterback A1 takes the snap and turns to face deep back A2. A1 then puts (a) an empty hand, or (b) the ball into A2’s gut. A2 crouches and begins to run forward. B4 tackles A2. Ruling 1: In both (a) and (b), B4’s tackle is legal. In (a), A2 was a runner because he simulated possession of the ball.

Play 2: Quarterback A1 takes the snap and turns to face deep back A2. A1 hands the ball to A3 and continues to drop back while crouched over, pretending to have kept the ball on a “bootleg” play. B5 tackles A1. Ruling 2: B5’s tackle is legal.

Any player who is simulating possession of the ball is a runner. A running back who pretends to receive a handoff may be contacted as if he had the ball. Likewise, the quarterback who hands the ball to a teammate can be immediately contacted as if he still had the ball. The greater the deception, the more lenient the officials will be with the defense.

Simulated handoffs are ripe for inadvertent whistles. The covering official must know where the ball is before he blows his whistle. Thus the adage, “See leather before blowing the whistle.”

Play 3: Quarterback A1 takes the snap and turns to face deep back A2. A1 then puts an empty hand into A2’s gut. A2 crouches and begins to run forward. B6 vigorously tackles A2, knocking off A2’s helmet. Ruling 3: B6’s tackle is legal and the ball remains live.

The ball is dead only when a ball carrier’s helmet comes off (NFHS 4-2-2k; NCAA 4-1-3q). The clock does not stop when that occurs (NFHS 3-4-4; NCAA 3-3-2e). The rule does not apply to a player simulating possession of the ball.

There are a few other rules that mandate different treatment between a runner and a ball carrier. Two involve out of bounds and forward progress stopped. If a whistle were to be blown when a player simulating carrying the ball goes out of bounds or has his forward progress stopped, it would be an inadvertent whistle (NFHS 4-2-2a; NCAA 4-1-3a, b). NCAA rules also exempt the ball from being dead when a player simulating carrying the ball simulates putting his knee on the ground (2-27-7, 4-1-3o).

The runner can, of course, be tackled. If any player other than the runner is tackled, it is a holding violation, if not a personal foul. In tackling the runner, the defense may use several techniques which are otherwise illegal. They include clipping, tripping or blocking below the waist (NFHS 2-41-1; NCAA 2-26).

Tackling is not, however, a license for the defense to do whatever it wants to the runner.

Several acts against the runner are personal fouls that carry a 15-yard penalty (with an automatic first down in NCAA only). Those prohibited acts include helmet contact, delivering blows and unnecessary roughness.

Face tackling and spearing are NFHS-only terms and are somewhat related fouls. Face tackling is driving the facemask, frontal area or top of the helmet directly into the runner. The foul may result from an inadvertent act. Spearing is intentionally driving the helmet into a player in an attempt to punish him and may be committed either by offensive or defensive players. Those acts are prohibited in NCAA play under the targeting rules (NFHS 9.4.2B Cmt; NCAA 9-1-3, 9-1-4).

Grasping or pulling the runner’s facemask, helmet opening or chin strap is also a foul. Simply touching the facemask is not a foul. It is a foul for any player to grasp an opponent’s facemask or any edge of the helmet. Only in NFHS is a distinction made between incidental grasping and twisting, turning or pulling (9-4-2h). The penalty for incidental grasping is five yards but it is 15 for the more severe foul. NCAA deleted the five-yard option in 2009. Twisting, turning or pulling results in a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down (9-1-8). If there is any question whether a player turned an opponent’s head or used the facemask as a handle to pull the opponent down, the major foul should be called.

Play 4: As runner A3 is tackled, B2 (a) incidentally grabs A3’s facemask, or (b) pulls, twists or turns A3’s facemask. Ruling 4: In (a), an incidental facemask is only a foul in NFHS.. In (b), it is a 15-yard penalty in either code. Only in NCAA is it an automatic first down.

Unnecessary roughness while the ball is live is also a foul (NFHS 9-4-2g; NCAA 9-1-7). Body slams, in particular, are unnecessary acts and should not be tolerated. No player can pile on, fall on or throw his body on the runner or another opponent after the ball becomes dead. Horse collar tackles are illegal.

Also, no opponent can block or tackle the runner when he is clearly out of bounds. Officials should be especially aware when action ends beyond the sidelines, where tacklers drive a runner out of bounds. Any runner approaching the sidelines can be contacted legally inbounds as long as the contact is made in a manner prescribed by rule. An opponent is not expected to avoid contacting a runner inbounds even though the runner may indicate he is headed toward the sideline. However, once he has crossed the sideline, any avoidable contact on the runner is illegal.

The tackler’s teammates may not join in with additional contact once the runner has broken the plane of the sideline. Moreover, even if contact is initiated in the field of play, a tackler may not add additional thrust, renew a charge or slam the runner to the ground after crossing the sideline. Once out of bounds, the runner cannot be taken to the ground unless it is the unavoidable result of an effort which began inbounds.

George Demetriou has been a football official since 1968. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 02/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Baseball – Decision Pitch


Be Ready for All the Possibilities With a 3-2 Count

By Jon Bible

When the count is three and two, things can get IN-tense, as we Southerners say.

That is especially true the closer the game, the further along it is and the more runners there are on base. I’m sure there are folks whose attitude at that time is, “Bring it on — I want a close pitch so I can show how good I am.” Call me a coward, but my view always was, “Please, let the batter swing at it or it be so far above his head or down the middle that Ray Charles could call it.”

When we’re in that situation, there are some things we need to keep in mind.

First, my attitude has always been that the zone cannot change. What was or was not a strike on the earlier pitches to that batter, or earlier in the game, must be or not be a strike now. That is contrary to some of my mates’ thinking. Their school of thought holds that we should expand the zone early to get batters swinging and then collapse it to normal after two or three innings. And that it’s OK to be more liberal in calling the first two strikes, while the third one needs to really “be there.”

I’ve never bought that theory. Especially if the teams don’t know you, they size you up early in the game, meaning they watch to see if you have a large or tight zone, do or do not call the high or low strike, etc. If you send them the message early on that you’re going to call a particular pitch a strike, then change in the third or fourth inning, they’re going to chalk it up to inconsistency, and they’re not going to know where to throw the ball or what to swing at.

As a pitcher, I wanted to know how far outside, inside, low and high you will go with your zone. If I put a pitch in a given spot and you ring it up, I think I’m reasonable in concluding that the next time I hit that spot, the result will be the same.  So, given my mind-set, when I had a 3-2 count, I thought, “Same zone.”

It’s not easy to ball a close pitch in that situation, especially if it’s an east-west pitch that looks good from the dugout even though it may be three inches inside, and particularly if, like I do, you believe that with a 3-2 count batters should be aggressive on close pitches and swing the bat. But it is what it is. If he doesn’t swing and the pitch is out of our normal zone, we can’t ring it up; we have to do what’s right. And, of course, the result of our ringing up a pitch like that because we think the hitter should have swung and not put the monkey on our backs is that the other team will raise Cain because it will know by the 10th inning that it was not a normal strike.

Another thing we must be aware of with a 3-2 count and runners on base is the runners’ actions. With R2, for example, the pitcher is not guilty of balking if he comes set, R2 breaks for third and the pitcher then throws to third without disengaging the rubber. If R2 breaks before the pitcher throws — and I don’t mean fakes or stutter-steps — the pitcher is not deemed to be throwing to an unoccupied base. That is why you will hear the third-base coach yell to runners, “Make sure he pitches.” At lower levels especially it can be easy for a runner to break too quickly and be easily thrown out. That play doesn’t happen very often, but it can jump up and bite us if we’re not looking for it.

That is hard to officiate even with multiple umpires, because depending on the runner combination, one will be in the infield. Because he may not be able to see what the runners are doing — especially if he is focusing on the pitcher, as he should be — it may be that only the plate umpire and the umpire(s) working behind the fielders can see if a runner breaks before the pitcher throws.

Even then, if all umpires are watching the pitcher to ensure that his motion is legal, the best we can hope for is that we incidentally see what the runners do. By that I mean that while every umpire’s focus must be on the pitcher and then the pitch, someone may be conscious of the runners’ actions out of the corner of his eye or via his second look, as it were. In a two-umpire crew, the call may fall entirely on the plate umpire’s shoulders.

As an aside, if the runner breaks early, the pitcher turns and throws ahead of the runner, and the runner stops, it is still not a balk. The pitcher can’t know that the runner was bluffing, so he is not deemed to be throwing to an unoccupied base if the runner was advancing toward that base when the pitcher threw.

With runners and a 3-2 count, the half-swing can create a tough situation. Suppose R1 is off with the pitch and the batter checks his swing. If there are two outs and the pitch is in the zone, it doesn’t matter because it’s strike three, inning over. Otherwise, the catcher may be in a dilemma as to whether to throw to second. If he does and it’s ball four and the throw goes into the outfield, R1 may end up at third; if he doesn’t and it’s strike three, R1 gets an easy stolen base.

At clinics I’ve heard it said that in that situation we should speed up our timing; we must, in other words, announce more quickly than we usually do that it’s strike three, ball four, “Yeah, he went” or “No, he didn’t.” I disagree. Although I see that point of view, I believe that, faced with a choice of putting the catcher in a Catch-22 and possibly missing the pitch in the crucial 3-2 situation because we call it too quickly, we must sacrifice the catcher in the interest of getting the pitch right. I have a hard enough time getting pitches right when my timing is good; I don’t need to jeopardize things by speeding up my timing.

Suppose the pitch is obviously not a strike — it’s in the dirt, for example — so the only question is whether the batter swung. I still don’t think we should speed up our timing, but I agree that we should be especially emphatic in calling whatever we call; otherwise the catcher, who is trying to handle several things at once, may not hear us or it might not register. Sometimes that may result in a situation that can’t be avoided. If R1 is running with less than two outs and we rule no swing on a pitch in the dirt, there is nothing that we can do if the defense appeals, as by rule it is entitled to, and we check with our partner, who rings up a strike. Had we ruled a strike to begin with the catcher would likely have thrown and may have retired R1, but that falls in the category of “sometimes stuff happens.”

If you’re on the bases in that situation, do not coach the runner. Even when R1 is running and it’s ball four with no checked-swing involved, I won’t tell him to ease up or stand up. But for sure I won’t do that if there is a checked-swing. How embarrassing would it be for me to tell him to ease up because the call was no-swing, only to have the catcher fire down a throw, the fielder tag R1 out, the defense appeal and another umpire call the hitter out for swinging? If that happens we’re stuck — we can’t send R1 back to first or award him second for our screw-up; all we can do is let the out stand and take the heat that will inevitably come. I learned that first-hand, by the way, early in my career.

Three-two situations can be crowd-pleasers because the tension level increases. For umpires, however, they can make our jobs harder. Just as football officials have mental checklists that they run through before every play, the things noted above should be part of an umpire’s checklist whenever the count gets to 3-2.

Jon Bible, Austin, Texas, is a veteran umpire who has worked six NCAA Division I College World Series. 

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 06/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Softball – AGA’s the Place to Be for Base Umpires


By Anthony “Corky” Carter

It is an awesome sight when you see two umpires working in tandem to make the right call on a close play when umpires correctly defer their call to a partner because they’re blocked out of the play or found themselves in a marginal position.

One play in slow pitch that often lends itself to help from your partner is when there is a runner on first and there’s a snap-back throw to first after a line drive to the pitcher, second baseman or shortstop. As the base umpire, that type of play usually occurs so quickly that you don’t have the opportunity or ability to move into position to get the proper angle as the runner is sliding or diving back into first.

Outstanding umpire teams have a pre-arranged set of mechanics to handle that difficult situation. The mechanics may be that the base umpire points to the plate umpire to make the call, verbally requests assistance, or they agree that the call at first will always be the plate umpire’s responsibility. Let’s face the fact that if the line drive is caught by the shortstop, there is no way to get an advantageous angle by moving toward the pitcher.

While it is acceptable to defer the call to the plate umpire in those three situations, many calls are often deferred to the plate umpire that were the base umpire’s responsibility. Why does that happen? A) The base umpire does not understand how to get into the proper position. B) The base umpire is too lazy to get into position. C) The base umpire doesn’t want to make the tough call. D) The base umpire wants the plate umpire to “take the heat” for the close call. E) All the above. The answer is E, although I’m being a bit facetious.

What’s happening most often is the base umpire is not positioning himself or herself in the Area of Greatest Advantage (AGA). Most of the time that occurs when there are multiple runners on base. Let’s start with the bases loaded and describe where the AGA is and its importance.  When there’s a hit to the outfield with the bases loaded, it’s “off to the races” for the runners and the base umpire. The error in mechanics that most often occurs is that the base umpire doesn’t get inside the diamond far enough (or not at all) and ends up being too close to second base or outside the diamond.

During the time when a runner is advancing to the plate, if the plate umpire cannot cover third base, the base umpire has the dilemma of making the call at third, second or first base. Once the ball is cut off by the shortstop or second baseman, it’s anyone’s guess to which base it will be thrown. If the base umpire errs by staying too close to second, he or she has lost the angle at both corners. That is why it is critical for the base umpire to immediately go to the AGA in preparation to make the call at any base. When he or she doesn’t get himself to the AGA, he or she is in a very poor position to make the calls that are his or her responsibility. Additionally, if the plate umpire has moved to third, the base umpire is out of position for the call at the plate.

Where is the AGA for the base umpire? It’s the exact center of the diamond. However, I’ll settle for the base umpire getting to anywhere inside a five-foot circle around the pitcher’s plate. If you work at getting yourself to that area you’ll find yourself making more correct calls with fewer arguments and fewer deferrals to your partner.

With runners on first and third, when a fly ball is hit to the outfield, many base umpires come inside the diamond only a few feet. If the base umpire has started out close to second base, that is where he’ll position himself inside the diamond, too close to second base, thinking this is a good place to make the call at second if the runner advances after the catch. However, if a throw from the cutoff man goes to the first baseman trying to retire the runner, the base umpire’s angle is atrocious. Asking for help from the plate umpire in that situation is a “cop-out” because the plate umpire is usually down the baseline toward third base and a runner will be crossing his or her line of vision. The catcher may also get between him or her and what can be seen at first base.

The preferred mechanic for the base umpire with the bases loaded? When the ball is hit to the outfield with multiple runners on base, move inside the diamond, keep your eyes on the flight of the ball and back your way to the AGA. That position provides an excellent angle to make a call at any base. By taking a couple of steps toward the base where the play is being made, you give the appearance of being closer to the play than you actually are.

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 01/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Volleyball – Center on Partner, Reducing Stress


By Suzanne Dodd

“Centering” is a technique utilized by both first and second referees to communicate information after a play. Both referees should fully focus attention on their partner after each rally ends and before signaling the result of the rally. Why? To center with our partners ensures that pertinent information is communicated with each other. Whether we need to discreetly signal a fourth contact, request a warning to a player, or offer reassurance that a situation was handled appropriately, centering serves as a useful technique for both referees to employ.

But centering is a loaded term that means so much more than just looking at your partner after each play. To fully benefit from centering, it helps to understand the psychological implications of the term.

In psychology, centering is a concentration technique used to reduce anxiety and distracting thoughts. The process of centering involves breath control to reduce muscle tension, to block out negative thoughts and to re-focus attention on the match. Centering helps reduce the body’s physical and mental responses to stressful situations.

Physical reactions to stress include increased muscle tension, heart rate and respiration rate. Butterflies form in the stomach. You may begin to sweat more and feel a rush of adrenaline. That is the fight-or-flight response that prepares the body to confront the situation or to flee it as fast as possible.

Mental responses to stress include changes in attention, concentration and visual search patterns. For example, a volleyball referee who recognizes the critical nature of every point late in the fifth set may find his or her focus to be on both relevant matters, such as a setter’s position, and irrelevant matters, such as the crowd. Or the referee may devote attention to his or her own nerves and self-doubt rather than the play on the court. Those types of distractions can negatively impact performance and set the stage for an official to “choke.”

Centering helps to counter the stress response and re-focus attention on the relevant cues in the environment. That coping strategy is an excellent technique for managing the stress symptoms and shifting focus to the relevant performance tasks.

How to center. There is a physical component to centering, which involves a referee positioning himself or herself with both feet approximately shoulder width apart so that body weight is equally distributed. (If you doubt that, next time you work as first referee, try standing on one foot or on the balls of your feet during play. You will likely notice that your attention drifts from maintaining balance to fatigue in your lower legs, both unnecessary distractions.) But centering involves more than just a physical component. It also is a means of preparing the mind to focus on important cues, and it’s the mental component that makes it an excellent technique for coping with stress.

The psychological aspect of centering involves directing attention inward and then altering breathing patterns to induce relaxation. Taking a breath from the abdomen rather than the chest relaxes the neck and shoulders, making it easier to maintain a sense of calmness and control in a difficult situation.

The centering breath should occur between the end of a play and the beginning of the signal sequence of the play outcome. If that feels rushed, take the breath between signals at the end of a play and before initiating the next beckon for serve.

The final step of the centering process is to use a word or phrase that creates the relaxed physical feelings and mental focus necessary to maintain a sense of control. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, worried or as if you’re losing control, use a trigger word to bring yourself back in the moment. Think of a cue that helps you to focus positively in the present moment, not on a past or future play. Words like “focus,” “calm,” “control” and “I’m good” can all serve as triggers to keep you in the game.

Centering is also helpful in preventing bracing — the muscle tension experienced as a result of prolonged stress. When we anticipate stress — say you made a ballhandling call on a crucial play and you expect the coach to erupt — our body “braces” for the response. We may become rigid with anger or unable to move because of fear. The centering technique can prevent a difficult situation from spiraling out of control, and assist a referee in regaining confidence and re-focusing attention on the match.

Centering in practice. Centering may seem like an impractical technique to use during a match, however, with a little practice it can (and should!) become a normal part of your end-of-play routine. It’s a mental skill to be practiced just like any physical skill. And if you learn to recognize your personal physical and mental signs of stress, then having the centering technique to fall back on will help raise your game in difficult situations.

The next time your partner suggests you need to center more after each play, remember the full implications of that term. We know that we should make eye contact with our partners after every play. That helps in communication, but it’s so much more than that.

Centering helps us stay on the same page with our partner, but it also helps us control high levels of stress, reduce muscle tension and re-focus attention on relevant cues. If you’re able to master that simple skill, then you have a powerful tool to reduce errors, improve concentration and make the overall experience of officiating more enjoyable.

Suzanne Dodd, Greenville, S.C., is adjunct faculty at Anderson University in Anderson, S.C., in the Department of Kinesiology. She is a PAVO National volleyball referee and line judge and a USA Volleyball Junior National referee.

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 10/13 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Baseball – Catch as Catch Can


By George Demetriou

Acatch is the act of a fielder getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it. He may not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. However, in order to record an out with a catch, the fielder must be standing in the right spot. Except where noted, the material applies equally to NFHS, NCAA and pro rules.

Where it is. Whether a catch is allowed is not always as simple as the delineation between live-ball and dead-ball territory. That line could be a fence, rope, wire, railing or a chalk line, or it could be imaginary such as a fence-line extended, a creek edge or the start of an upslope. A line through the edge of parked cars is not unheard of in the annals of prep baseball. If there is a finite line, it is considered live-ball territory.

In NFHS play, a catch can be made as long as any part of a foot is touching live-ball territory. Thus a catch can be made with one foot in live-ball territory and one foot in dead-ball territory or one foot in live-ball territory with the other airborne. A catch can be made by an airborne fielder as long as the last foot left from live-ball territory. A catch after the fielder has established his position in dead-ball territory is not allowed (2.9.1C Cmt). Jumping on top of a railing or canvas that may be in foul ground is usually prohibited by ground rule.

Under NCAA and pro rules, a catch cannot be made with any part of the fielder’s body touching dead-ball territory (NCAA 6-1d1; pro 6.05a Cmt).

Play 1: B1 hits a foul pop fly.

When F9 catches the ball, he is straddling a line dividing live-ball from dead-ball territory. F9’s momentum then causes him to step with both feet into dead-ball territory. Ruling 1: NFHS: Legal catch. NCAA, pro: No catch; that is an uncaught foul ball.

Because demarcation lines are in live-ball territory, a fielder can make a catch if he has any part of his body, including a foot, touching such a line provided no portion of his body or foot is in contact with the ground beyond the line.

It’s also possible for a player to make a catch by launching himself to catch the ball while completely airborne and then landing in dead-ball territory.

In a July 1, 2004, game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter nearly did that. With two out and runners on second and third, Jeter ranged behind third base, caught a fair ball and took three steps before he went face first into the stands.

In all codes, a fielder may reach into a dugout, be held up and kept from an apparent fall by a player or players of either team and if the catch is made, it shall be allowed. If such a fielder is interfered with by an opponent, the batter is out and no runners may advance (NFHS 3-2-3; NCAA 6-1d AR 1; pro 7.11).

A fielder may also enter dead-ball territory and re-enter live-ball territory to make a catch. If he does that, he must comply with the requirements mentioned above. In NCAA and pro, he must get back into live-ball territory with no part of his body touching dead-ball territory, while in NFHS he need only get a foot down in live-ball territory.

Live or dead ball? Under NFHS rules, if a player makes a catch and enters (completely) into dead-ball territory, the ball is dead (5-1-1i). In NCAA and pro, the ball remains live unless the fielder falls (loses body control). However, if the fielder makes a legal catch and goes through or over an outfield fence, the ball is immediately dead even if the fielder lands feet first (NCAA 6-1d, 8-3m; pro 5.10f, 7.04c Cmt).

A player may stumble, lean on a dugout wall, be supported by players or spectators, or teeter on a railing without actually falling. If he intentionally slides or goes down to one or both knees, he has not lost body control. The ball remains in play and runners may advance at their own risk. A player’s status is a judgment call.

When the ball becomes dead after a catch, the batter is out and runner(s) advance one base.

Throws. If it is possible for a fielder to enter a dead-ball area and make a throw from there (NCAA and pro only), the ground rules should address whether such a throw is permissible. If the ground rules do not address that situation, a throw is allowed since the ball remains live unless the fielder falls or otherwise loses body control.

If the fielder drops the ball within the dead-ball area while in the act of throwing, the ball is dead and runners are awarded two bases from the time of the drop. If the ground rules prohibit a throw and require the fielder to enter live-ball territory before making a throw, and the fielder throws from dead-ball territory or drops it there, the ball is dead and runners are awarded one base.

Play 2: Near shallow right field, a marked line curves around the unprotected bullpen. With a runner on second, F9 catches B1’s line drive. R2 tags as the fielder’s momentum carries him across the line and into the dead-ball area, where he (a) throws to F4, his cutoff man, (b) runs into live-ball area before throwing, or (c) falls down attempting to throw. Ruling 2: NFHS: In either case, the ball is dead when F9 enters dead-ball territory; R2 is awarded third. NCAA, pro: In (a) and (b), the ball remains live. In (c), the ball is dead; R2 is awarded third.

George Demetriou, a resident of Colorado Springs, is the current NFHS rule interpreter for the state of Colorado.

Referee Magazine(This article was published in the 05/12 issue of Referee Magazine.)

Feature – Solid Stance – Gerry Davis Profile

(This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Referee Magazine.)

MLB Umpire Gerry Davis is known for his Plate stance, his officiating gear business and his professionalism ­­— and he’s worked the most postseason games of any current umpire.

By John Oehser

The honor hardly could be more fitting.

OK, perhaps having a behind-the-plate stance named after you — as Gerry Davis does — isn’t technically an honor. But it certainly speaks volumes about one of Major League Baseball’s most tenured, respected and decorated umpires.

To have a technique you designed named after you …

To know you designed that technique because you believe it’s the right way to do things …

To know that fundamental — and the Gerry Davis “Lockbox” stance indeed has become a fundamental — says a lot about your approach to your profession …

Put those things together and you have something fitting, something lasting. And to someone as dedicated to his profession as Davis is to umpiring, it’s not only fitting, it’s humbling and a whole lot more.

“It’s rewarding,” Davis said. “I’m very proud of it.”

This is Gerry Davis’ umpiring story, and the story isn’t just about a stance. It’s a story about achievement, consistency and commitment. It’s also a story of longevity, but more than anything, it’s a story of a guy who found the career he loved pretty much by chance, then turned it into a more successful career on and off the field than he ever dreamed possible.

Davis, 62, at his core is an umpire’s umpire and all that implies.

“He’s the consummate professional,” said MLB umpire Phil Cuzzi, a longtime member of Davis’ crew.

He’s about loyalty, and doing his job in a calm way that calms others. He’s about doing things the same way, every day.

“He takes a lot of pride in everything he does and everything his business does,” said Pat Miles, a longtime football and basketball official who worked at Appleton, Wis., based Gerry Davis Sports for nearly a decade.
He’s about the sport, first and foremost.

“He loves what he does and he’s good at it,” longtime MLB umpire Greg Gibson said. “He’s a teacher. He’s a mentor. He’s everything you’re looking for. I guess he’d be the poster boy for what a major league umpire should be.”

He’s MLB’s longest-tenured crew chief, and as MLB Director of Umpire Administration Matt McKendry said, he’s a “stabilizing force, on the field and off.”

“If we had 76 people with Gerry Davis’ skills and his abilities, we would be a very good staff,” McKendry said.

All of those things are about more than a stance — and as for that stance, we’ll get to it. Soon. Because the stance is absolutely and fittingly part of the story. It’s just not the whole story.

• • •

Before we cover stance, we’ll cover resume, and before the resume, we must explore his beginnings. Because while Davis’ career is one of accomplishment, he didn’t start out dreaming of an umpiring career.

In the mid-1970s, as Davis’ best friend tells it, Davis wasn’t dreaming of much of anything. At least not seriously. He wasn’t a bad guy. He just wasn’t a particularly motivated guy. And while he and his buddies were still playing semipro baseball in St. Louis in the mid-’70s, Davis never talked about umpiring. So it surprised Don Dill when Davis told people he was heading to umpire school.

“He never really talked about it,” said Dill, Davis’ best friend since age nine.

He never much thought about it, either. Not until 1975. The manager of Davis’ semipro team at the time was responsible for providing one of two umpires for each game. When Davis injured his arm, his manager found a way to save $8 to $10 a game.

“The manager told me, ‘You’re going to be the umpire,” Davis said.

After Davis umpired a couple of games, his manager told him something else: “You should think about going to umpire school.”

Davis recalled the story with a laugh. “I didn’t know there was such a thing as umpire school,” he said. “I grew up like every red-blooded American kid wanting to be a baseball player.”

Davis, working at Thurmer’s Tavern in St. Louis, saw a Sporting News ad for the Al Somers Umpire School in Daytona Beach, Fla. Davis mentioned the ad to his manager, who sent for the application. Davis applied, was accepted and entered Somers’ school in 1976, a year before Harry Wendelstedt purchased the school.

“It came at a time in my life where I said, ‘Why not? I’m 22 years old,’’’ he said. “If I didn’t follow this, I didn’t want to have to look back and say, ‘What if?’’’

Davis took to umpiring. Fast. He graduated second in his class at Somers’ school, then worked the Midwest League in 1976-77 and the Eastern League in 1978. He worked the Florida Instructional League in 1977-78 and the Puerto Rico Winter League in 1979 while working the American Association from 1978-82. He was in MLB by 1984.

“At 18 or 19, he had no direction,” Dill said with a laugh. “But he was never afraid of a challenge and never afraid to try something. Out of the clear blue, he decided he was going down there. He decided he wanted to do it. He had played ball all his life, so it all went hand in hand and it turned out to be perfect.”

Davis said he doesn’t know where life would have led had he not applied to the school, but he knows his message when he tells young umpires his story.

“I tell them, ‘Follow those dreams, because you don’t want to look back and be sorry you didn’t take the chance,’’’ Davis said.





(From top) Gerry Davis uses his hands-on-knees stance during a Cubs-Giants game in 2013. Davis visits a patient at Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, Calif., in 2012 for the Umps Care charity. Davis works the NLCS in 2014.
– Photos By Bill Nichols, John Cordes –

• • •

Now, we can talk resume. That’s fun when you’re talking about Davis, because his resume moves quickly past impressive and into staggering:

  • Twenty-one postseasons, including the last 17 in succession.
  • Five World Series.
  • Ten League Championship Series.
  • Eleven League Division Series.
  • Four All-Star games.

If that sounds impressive, it’s because it is impressive. Add up the number of games in each series and it’s not surprising it totals a record for postseason games umpired — 128. Not surprising to anyone but Davis, anyway.

“It’s a little mind-boggling,” he said. “The postseason events are really what I’m most proud of. We’ve had, I’d say, seven or eight different regimes since I’ve been involved. For all of them to have the confidence in me to work postseason, it’s very rewarding.”

Cuzzi called the postseason the “litmus test,” adding, “If it was people playing favorites, it wouldn’t mean as much.

“He’s so respected not only by the league office, but the teams,” Cuzzi said.

You don’t fluke into respect. Is Davis good fundamentally? Can he call balls, strikes, safes and outs? No doubt. MLB umpires are the best of the best, and therefore, make the difficult look easy. Davis? “He makes it look really easy,” Gibson said.

But in umpiring, there’s calling the game, then there’s controlling the game — and baseball people will tell you if Davis makes the first look easy, he makes the second look doubly so.

“Things get heated between the lines,” McKendry said. “You’re supposed to be able to settle that down whenever you can. Gerry has an innate ability to do that. That calming approach he takes along with the respect clubs have for him helps him control volatile situations when they arise.

“He’s a calming influence. He’s well-respected by the clubs and his peers. He is an upstanding member of our group and we’re glad to have him.”

To hear Gibson tell it, to work a game with Davis is not only to work a game with an umpire at the height of his onfield skill, but also in control of his crew. It’s also to work a game in which the umpires are subjected to strikingly little yelling.

“They know him and respect him enough to know we’re just not going to listen to it,” Gibson said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements. He’ll let people have their say, but when that’s it, that’s it. They know that. They know what to expect as far as his ability.”

We’ve addressed the resume, the respect. What we haven’t covered are the whys and hows behind the respect. His fellow umpires say it’s about his demeanor and calmness.

Davis said his demeanor didn’t come immediately or naturally.

“It came over time,” he said with a laugh. “I was a little bit of a redass when I first started. I did my share of yelling and had my share of nose-to-nose arguments, but if you talk to players and managers now, most would say if you approach me in a professional manner, that’s the way you’ll be treated.”

The nose-to-nose stuff works for some umpires. As for Davis, he doesn’t see the job about showmanship or flash, which is why polls outlining the best/worst/favorite/least-favorite MLB umpires of players, coaches and fans rarely include Davis’ name.

That’s OK with Davis, and when he talks to people about best- and worst-umpire lists, his attitude is pretty clear.

“He says, ‘You don’t want to be on either one,’’’ Miles said.


Consistency. Talk to Davis about his approach to umpiring, you hear it. Talk to him a while longer, you hear it a lot.


So, if lists are what Davis doesn’t want to be on, and arguments are what he doesn’t want to be involved in, what does Davis want? How does he want to be known? Postseason appearances are one way, and the stance is another, of course. But mostly, it’s about a word.

“I think I’m really consistent,” he said.

Consistency. Talk to Davis about his approach to umpiring, you hear it. Talk to him a while longer, you hear it a lot.

“When people talk about umpires, they think about consistency in balls and strikes and consistently doing a good job with that,” Davis said. “But I think it’s more important to be consistent with your demeanor. I don’t get overly excited when things call for that. I think I’m very level-headed and handle situations well, which is one of the major attributes an umpire has to have.”

Consistency. Calmness. Respect from peers, from players and coaches. A staggering resume. As if those weren’t enough to leave a lasting impression on a sport and a profession, consider another part of Davis’ resume.

Davis has mentored many younger umpires, including call-ups from Triple A. Brian Knight, Quinn Wolcott, Todd Tichenor, Will Little — each is a current MLB umpire who worked on Davis’ crew before his full-time hire.

“He takes just as much pride for his crewmates to be selected for the postseason as the pride he takes in himself being selected,” Cuzzi said.

McKendry said Davis’ success with young umpires is no fluke, stemming from Davis’ approach of protecting them when they need protection and knowing when to let them “handle their own business.”

“He has a good sense for those two parts,” McKendry said. “He makes an effort to teach and lead by example.”
Gibson said life for a young umpire under Davis is rewarding. “He has a different way of teaching,” Gibson said. “Sometimes he’ll let you fall on your face and say, ‘OK, do you want to talk about it?’ But he has a way of going about his business that everybody respects. He’s not perfect by any means, but everybody knows he’s working hard toward it. And he does work hard at it.

“He leads by example. You know what to expect when you work for him. You have a good time working with him and if you don’t have a good time working for him, it’s your fault,” Gibson said.

It could be said that Davis’ work with younger umpires is leaving a legacy. While Davis is hesitant to say it that way, he said without question it’s rewarding.

“That’s the interesting thing about this profession,” Davis said. “A lot of people who have never umpired talk about how thankless the job is. That’s not really true. There are a lot of things that happen that make you proud to be an umpire.”

• • •

The legacy? The consistency? All of that also is notable when telling Davis’ story.

Something else notable is that about 15 years into his MLB career, these traits — the caring about the profession, the desire to make things better, the attention to detail, the doing things right — somehow all of that became the foundation for a profession outside his profession and intertwined with it all at the same time. And that’s pretty much how Gerry Davis Sports was born.

Davis wasn’t thrilled with plate shoes in the 1990s and had an idea for a shoe that combined safety and comfort. A market of 2,000-3,000 was too niche for larger shoe companies, so Davis approached Cove Shoe Company.


The Gerry Davis stance. the lockbox stance. the hands-on-knees stance … it is part of Davis’ legacy, but it didn’t come overnight.


Together, they designed and produced the shoe.

“They sold immediately,” Miles said, and as they did, umpires calling for shoes began asking for shin guards, chest protectors and indicators. At first, Davis didn’t have those items.

“I told them, ‘I’ll call you back,” Davis said with a laugh.

Nearly two decades later, Gerry Davis Sports supplies officials in baseball, basketball, football and softball, and Miles said the same traits that have made Davis successful on the field translate off of it.

“He believes you get one good first impression,” Miles said. “Gerry’s very much on board with that. He wants the umpire to look the best he can.”

So, now you know about Davis the businessman, and Davis the umpire. Davis the umpire is not only about doing things right, but giving back to the profession, which led to a whole lot of Gerry Davis Umpire Clinics for young umpires. And from those umpire clinics came … the stance.

The Gerry Davis Stance. The Lockbox Stance. The Hands-on-Knees Stance. It has been called all three. And it is part of Davis’ legacy, but it didn’t come overnight.

It evolved from a desire to be as consistent as possible, and it evolved from years of teaching clinics, from years of trying to help young umpires be as consistent as possible, Davis said.

“One of the things that’s most important (as an umpire) is you look at every pitch exactly the same way,” Davis said. “The way to do that is to have head height exactly the same every time. The only way you can ensure your head height is exactly the same is to have it locked in, by arms being locked on knees. That way, your head is the same height all the time. Your arms lock your head in a certain height. Those are the most important things to being a consistent plate umpire, so that’s what I started doing.”

Davis first worked with the technique in clinics, putting young umpires in their base stance, hands on knees. That achieved the objective of keeping the umpire’s head still, and also gave the umpire a consistent view from pitch to pitch. Davis soon began using it. Now, a quick Google search reveals pages upon pages of instruction, discussion and debate about the stance.

“It’s really rewarding when you hear from people who have adapted the stance, who didn’t use it before and now talk about how much more comfortable they are and how much they feel they have improved because of it,” Davis said.

Cuzzi said while its use is limited in MLB because umpires at that level grew up using a lower-crouched stance, the Davis stance has increased in popularity at other levels.

“His philosophy is very simple,” Cuzzi said. “You have to be very still in order to have the most accuracy when you call a pitch. When you talk about umpiring, you talk about consistency. To be consistent, you have to be consistent in what you’re doing to get to that point. He feels that by working with both hands on his knees, his head is at the same spot every time. We all have our own little ways, but the best way is the way that works for you. That certainly is the best way for him.”

And while the stance is best known for its effectiveness behind the plate, Cuzzi added, “If you watch him work the bases, you’ll see him do the same thing. Before he makes a call, whether it’s a play at first base, a steal at second or a trap in the outfield, he’s taking the same position: both hands on his knees, feet shoulder-length apart. It’s a very mechanical approach, but to show how consistent he is with that, he doesn’t just do it behind the plate, he does it on the bases as well.

“It may not be for everybody, but it certainly is for him,” Cuzzi said.

• • •

That’s the story of the stance, and while we’ve discussed it all — the stance, the resume, the approach, the beginnings — summing up a man so intertwined with the profession is still difficult. Maybe it’s a number we haven’t mentioned. Maybe it’s “40.”

Yes, 40. That’s the number of spring trainings for Davis.

“That’s a mindboggling number,” Davis said. “There are days, most of them actually, where it feels like 10 to 12 years ago since I started. It really has been a dream. To stay involved in a sport you love — I grew up listening to Harry Caray and Jack Buck doing Cardinal games and fell in love with the sport — to be able to stay involved with it and have that be my career is really, really special.”

And as for the inevitable question: How long? When will one of MLB’s most respected presences no longer be present? Davis said he doesn’t know, but he believes he will know when he needs to know.

“It goes in cycles,” he said. “You get rejuvenated all the time. Once the holidays are over, you count the days to spring training. Obviously, when it’s September, I’m counting the days until the season is over. The thing that’s fortunate about a baseball season is there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re starting to drag, the light is the end of the season. When you’re ready to get started, the light is the beginning of the season.

“You’re constantly rejuvenated. I guess when that’s not the case, that’s when I’ll retire.”

And when that time comes, the numbers will matter less than the approach, and the stance will still be really meaningful and pretty cool. And what will matter most is he became successful by doing things his way — consistently — and by doing so, he became the poster boy for a profession he fell in love with sort of by chance.
And you can’t tell this story without mentioning that.

John Oehser is a freelance writer from Jacksonville, Fla.

Inside Access on Gerry Davis

Favorite baseball city: St. Louis, his hometown. (Current residence: Huntington Beach, Calif.)

Best ballpark to work a game: “With so many new ones, they’re all very, very good. One of my least favorite ballparks is Wrigley Field. The dugouts are right on top of you and it’s not always good that we hear every comment in the dugout. The same reasons the fans love that ballpark are what make it difficult as an umpire’s ballpark.”

Best advice for a new official: “Work hard every day. Regardless of the score, regardless of the game, everyone sees you working. You have to work as hard in a freshman game as you would if you’re working in the seventh game of the World Series.”

Best baseball decision: “To go to umpire school in the first place. That would be what I would recommend to anyone who’s thinking about it. The worst thing to do is wonder, ‘What if?’ Because of the journey I’ve been on, the phrase is true: ‘If I can do it, anybody can do it.’”

Best part of job:
“The feeling of satisfaction you get when you’ve done a good job. Just like you know when you’ve missed a call, you know when you’ve gotten it right.”

Worst part of job: “The travel. Without question. Because of replay, it’s 120 games a year now, which is enough. Still, it’s every three or four days in a different city.”

Biggest umpiring influence: “The three crew chiefs I’ve worked with: Bruce Froemming, Doug Harvey, Terry Tata.”

Referee Magazine(This feature was published in the 09/15 issue of Referee Magazine.)

2015 NFL Rule and Procedure Changes


With the NFL season starting tomorrow here is a review of the rule changes as well as the football handling procedures.

Rule Changes

  • 3-34; 5-3-1 | Prohibits offensive player with an eligible number to report as ineligible and line up outside the core of the offensive formation.
  • 4-8-2; 14-4-9 | Allows for enforcement of an Unsportsmanlike Conduct foul at the end of a half to be applied to the ensuing kickoff.
  • 5-1-2 | Permits clubs to assign additional jersey numbers (40-49) to linebackers.
  • 9-1-3 | Prohibits Team B players from pushing teammates into the offensive formation when Team A presents a punt formation.
  • 11-3-1-3 | Line of scrimmage for Try Kicks moved to defensive team’s 15-yard line, and defense can return any missed Try.
  • 12-2-3 | Prohibits a back from blocking a defensive player below the waist when that player is engaged above the waist by another offensive player outside the area originally occupied by the tight end.
  • 12-2-4 | Extends the prohibition for an illegal “peel back” block to all offensive players.
  • 12-2-7 | Gives the intended receiver of a pass defenseless player protection in the immediate continuing action following an interception or potential interception.
  • 15-2-4 | Adds review of the game clock on the final play of a half or overtime to the Instant Replay system.

Football Handling Procedure Changes

  • Teams will be able to supply their own footballs, but the kicking game coordinator will take custody once they have been approved by officials.
  • Before a game, two members of the officiating crew will inspect the footballs, number them and record PSI data. The footballs need to measure between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI; if they don’t, they’ll be adjusted to 13.0 PSI.
  • Ten minutes before the game, the coordinator, a member of the officiating crew and a security person will bring 24 approved game balls (12 for each team) to the on-field replay station for distribution.
  • At some games, footballs will be randomly checked at halftime and after the game, and PSI data will be recorded to determine how cold weather affects the footballs.
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